Stiftung Landschaftsschutz Schweiz (Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation)
The Vaud Department for Spatial Development and the Environment has confirmed the rejection of over 230 objections submitted during the 2015 public review against the wind farm project in Mollendruz. All those who objected were notified of the decision, signed by state councillor Jacqueline de Quattro, in mid August. Given the grave impact of this project, five organisations working in nature and landscape conservation have decided to file a joint complaint to the canton court.
The Mollendruz wind farm, planned by Zurich electricity plants, proposes 12 wind turbines, each standing over 200 metres tall, to be erected on the crest between the Col du Mollendruz mountain pass and the Chalet Dernier in the Jura region of the canton Vaud. The project has been ten years in the planning. The organisations filing the complaint had informed the project promoters from the very beginning and the canton Vaud about the special sensitivity of the area in question.
This project disfigures a large section of the main crest in the Vaud part of the Jura mountains. The wind turbines would be visible across a vast swathe of the Vaud plateau and beyond, right up to notable viewing points such as the Dent de Vaulion. Roman Hapka, Western Switzerland’s director of the Stiftung Landschaftsschutz Schweiz (Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation), stresses that „this project, of all those currently planned in Switzerland, would most certainly have the biggest impact on the landscape.“
One main aspect of the complaint concerns the impact on winged fauna. The site in question is home to at least five species of bird and six species of bat categorised as endangered on the Red List. These animals will lose a habitat that is already under a great deal of strain. For the wood grouse, for example, 183 hectares of first-rate and second-rate habitat would be affected. In response, the developers are suggesting compensatory measures. Yet „the effectiveness of some of these measures is not proven; they cannot in any way be justified, given the sheer extent of negative effects foreseeable,“ states François Turrian, director of BirdLife Schweiz in French-speaking Switzerland.
The organisations also deplore the effects of the wind farm on a largely intact, unspoiled natural area. The construction of access roads to the wind farm is also a matter of national importance for dry grasslands and meadows, and is particularly damaging to rare and protected habitats. In addition, the Vaud authorities have not taken into account the cumulative effects of the project in conjunction with the two neighbouring wind farms (Grati and Bel Coster), which are currently in the project planning process. „We must not evaluate the effects of these 12 wind turbines without also looking at similar projects nearby,“ underlines Anne Bachmann, Project Officer Helvetia Nostra.
The complainants regret that the canton Vaud adheres to the Mollendruz project as part of its cantonal wind energy plan, even though the impact on the landscape and several protected bird species is sufficiently well known. The organisations involved are convinced that this project is in breach of the law and must not be allowed. „Of course we support renewable energies,“ clarifies Michel Bongard, managing Director of Pro Natura Vaud: „But interests must be weighed. In this case, the preservation of nature and the landscape is of huge importance and must be weighed as the priority.“
Photo: A photo montage shows the impact of the planned wind farm; here with views from Bavois.